According to a new study by American City Business Journals illustrating, SMB (small and mid-sized business) owners are using the Internet to improve their businesses. 1762 owners, CEOs and presidents of businesses with five to 499 employees identified five distinct segments for different business purposes.
Godfrey Phillips, Vice President for Research at ACBJ, explains that "... the five segments are Transactors, Investors, Interactors, Commentators and Viewers... Interactors, Investors and Transactors are the segments providing the greatest opportunity for companies pursuing the strengths of the Internet."
Interactors are the most heavily engaged with the Internet, spending 2.5 hours per week, the highest amount of time of all the segments. This group, a small group of business owners (15% of the survey population, accounting for 24% of sales) are mostly well-educated men and tend to run larger companies compared to any other SMB segment. Highly engaged with technology they have armed their employees with wireless devices, and are more inclined to make purchases over the Internet.
US Small Business Owner Internet Use Segments (% of Respondents and Total Sales)
% of SMB Users
% of Sales
Source: ACBM Insights 2010, June 2010
Interactors use the Internet for reading general and business news, researching and purchasing products and services, staying connected with colleagues and collecting information about competitors. Additionally, of all the groups, they are most likely to be frequent travelers.
Investors represent 22% of SMB owners and 23% of sales. They show moderate engagement with the Internet and are most inclined to use it to access general and business news and manage their investment accounts, but are less active in the social networks realm. These owners have the highest net worth and the largest investment portfolios of all segments.
Demographically, the Investors group consists primarily of men who average 53.6 years old, have completed degrees in higher education and the highest household incomes. Similar to Interactors, they are highly involved with the local community.
Transactors are the largest segment of Internet sellers and sell 50% of their products and services over the Internet, compared to 41% for all other SMB owners. They are less inclined to use the Internet for investing, banking and making travel plans.
Tansactors run well established companies and have are found in urban and/or suburban areas that skew toward the Northeast. Accounting for 25% of business owners and 29% of sales, Transactors are the most optimistic when it comes to believing that the economy has begun to improve.
Commentators and Viewers differ from the other three in a significant way, accounting for the least percentage of sales. Viewers make up 21% of the survey population, yet account for only 10% of sales. 17% of business owners are classified as commentators, but this segment accounts for 14% of sales.
Viewers, who consume more music, entertainment news and sports, own the smallest companies, with an average of 21 employees and work the fewest hours of 51.7 hours per week. They also spend the fewest hours on the Internet, 2.1 hours per week, spending their hours on blogs, YouTube and HDTV.
Commentators work the longest hours at 55.2 hours per week, and represent a higher percentage of women and minority owned businesses than the other segment. Commentators spend the most time working on their own blogs or posting responses to others, work out of the office the most, but use the Internet the least to buy or sell businesses and services.
Internet Purchases of Business Products/Services (% of Respondents in Segment)
% Purchasing From Internet
Source: ACBM Insights 2010, June 2010
Even in popular categories, such as using the Internet to buy business products and services, Interactors outpaced users in other segments. They were also more likely than average to:
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